On Friday, January 27, the Bears suffered their first league defeat to Sequoia by a score of 68-58. This loss puts them into a tie with Sequoia for first place in Peninsula Athletic League (PAL) south division with both teams having a league record of 6-1.

The Bears got off to a slow start in the first quarter with sloppy turnovers and bad shot selection. The Cherokee offense was on fire led by senior N’Jai LeBlanc Jr who finished the game with 22 points. Though Coach Michael Molieri tried to get the offense moving, the Bears found little success. Molieri explained, “They dominated us from start to finish. Our challenge is that we start off very slowly. That’s the challenge [for me] as a coach.”

The Bears were down 16-6 until junior Bradley Stillman hit a three to cut the Cherokee lead to 7.

The team stands while the National Anthem is played. Credit: Scott Macdonald / M-A Chronicle

The second quarter started just like the first with Sequoia extending its lead to double digits. The Bears hung in throughout the quarter with some timely baskets by senior Eric Norton to keep them in the game. Norton finished with a team-high 17 points. The Bears went into halftime losing by a score of 35-23.

The Bears came out of the break with good energy, causing turnovers and blocking shots, but couldn’t sustain this effort for very long. Every time the Bears seemed to be inching their way back into the game, Sequoia would go on another run, maintaining its double-digit advantage. The third quarter ended with the Cherokee leading by 14.

The Cherokee energy was high from the start and drove the team to a 10-point victory. Credit: Scott Macdonald / M-A Chronicle

The bench was impressive for the Bears late in the game, including a couple of three-pointers by junior Logan Faberowski late in the fourth. But it wasn’t enough to overcome Sequoia’s double-digit lead.

Molieri is looking ahead, despite the loss. He concluded, “It’s one loss. I can’t worry about Sequoia right now, we got to worry about getting better defensively, and we got Burlingame on Wednesday.”

The Bears look to get back on track in their next contest at Burlingame on February 1. Come out and cheer on the Bears at Burlingame High school as the Bears look to get there 15th victory overall and seventh win in league play.

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